Q: What do I do if my partner refuses to attend couples counseling with me?

After doing therapy for awhile you start to notice a trend in the questions and the concerns that clients have before therapy even starts.   I am hoping to address some of those here.

Q: What do I do if my partner refuses to attend couples counseling with me?

One issue that comes up is when one partner wants couples counseling and one partner does not.  The partner who would like to initiate therapy is left feeling like they are stuck, unable to move forward.  One thing that I tell all of my clients or potential clients is that you can start therapy by yourself.  There are many benefits of doing this and your partner may decide to join you at a later stage.

Going in for individual sessions allows you to explore your feelings and roles in the relationship in an environment that is free of judgment. It allows you to identify and deal with any personal problems that you may bring into the relationship. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your relationship is be the best version of yourself you can.  Individual therapy can help you to achieve that.

If your partner decides to join you in therapy later, you can talk to your therapist on how to handle this.  The person coming in can feel at a disadvantage due to the relationship already developed with the therapist.  I personally work to balance this out by meeting with the new partner individually for several sessions to allow them to get to know me and feel comfortable in the space. I never want someone to feel targeted or ambushed when they walk into my office. After there is a therapeutic relationship established with both partners we can move forward with couple sessions.  If things still feel unbalanced I may suggest a new therapist for the couple’s work.

Click here to get an idea of what an initial session looks like.

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